On 7 July, the Government announced a six-month extension of employer assisted work visas that expire between the period of 10 July 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Immigration New Zealand has also sent out blanket emails with wording that suggests that all migrants have had their visa extended for these six months.

There are several issues with this policy. Here is why you need to be very careful to ensure that this extension applies to you:

  • Not everyone who received an email qualifies for the visa extension

Immigration New Zealand’s email has been sent out to all holders of employer assisted work visas. However, if your visa did not originally expire between 10 July 2020 and 31 December 2020 then the extension does NOT apply to you and you need to submit a new visa application before you existing visa expires.

  • Extensions only apply if your work visa conditions have stayed the same

Your employer assisted work visa has been extended for 6 months with the same conditions of employer, occupation and region as the visa you currently have. If you have changed any of these conditions, i.e. moved jobs, your extended work visa’s conditions will not be correct. In this case you will need to submit a variation of conditions or in some cases a new work visa.

  • Visas of partners and dependent children not extended

Another major issue is that while the employer assisted visa holder’s visa has been extended for six months, your partner or children’s dependent work and student visas have not and they would need to submit a new visa application before their visas expire.

As the length of their visas are dependent on the principal applicant, they will only be granted visas up to the same extended visa expiry date of the principal applicant. In other words, you would pay expensive INZ application fees for a 6-month visa for your partner and children. In most cases, if you meet the new $25.50 threshold for a 3-year work visa, the preferable option is for the entire family to submit new visa applications and obtain 3-year visas.

  • Stand down periods and lower paid visas

If you are employed in a lower-paid role where you must stand down between August 2020 and of the 31 December 2020, you will be able to stay in New Zealand and work for the same employer in the same occupation and location for up to 6 more months, in line with your visa extension.

However, this does not apply to work visa holders who change employers or location – in these cases your stand down period will still apply.

Also, you can only apply for another essential skills work visa for a job paid at below the median wage if you have physically spent 12 consecutive months outside of New Zealand. It is not possible to avoid this by applying for a different visa for 12 months (i.e. a student visa to study a course) and then applying for another lower-paid work visa afterwards. You will not receive another lower-paid work visa until you have spent 12 consecutive months outside NZ.

Please make sure of your current situation.; If you need assistance with any aspect of your visa please contact us.

Vanessa Sharratt
Director and Licensed Immigration Adviser.